Notebook Review: Life Stationery Noble Note

photo of the Life Noble Note coverI haven’t done many paper reviews, and it’s nearly three years since I’ve done a notebook specific article. So, it’s either about time, or I have so little experience it’s a waste of time to read it. You’ve been warned.

I’ve liked Life Stationery notebooks and paper since I first used them years ago. If I remember correctly, I came across it at Nanami Paper when buying a Seven Seas Writer. I’ve always had a hard time finding Life stationery from U.S. retailers. While it is more available these days, there are so many Life Stationery products that there’s little product consistency between retailers. Even before COVID, it was always a crapshoot that Life notebooks and paper would be in stock. So when the Andersons mention on their podcast that Life notebooks were back in stock, I went to their site to take a look.

I ended up ordering some stationery (paper & envelopes) along with a couple notebooks. The Noble Note wire-bound notebook was included in that order.

The bright colors caught my eye. For the Noble line of notebooks, plain paper covers are brown, lined paper covers are blue, and graph (aka section) paper is orange. Once the cover caught my eye, the size pulled me in. It was listed as 3 X 5 but, they are actually 3.15″ X 5″. That extra 0.15″ is used by the wire binding. The useable area is 3 X 5. I also like wire-bound notebooks for many uses. They take up less space, but at the expense of making it harder to write on the left side (I’m right-handed.)

Graph ruling is my least favorite type of paper. I find the grid distracting, and it can often interfere with fountain pen ink. Despite that, I picked it in this case because I liked the orange cover best, plus the description and photos indicated the grid was very light. I was not going to use this notebook for extensive writing, so there wasn’t much risk. Between the wire binding, the graph ruling, and the thin paper, I expected to only write on one side of each sheet.

The notebooks have 40 sheets. (Currently, the text on the Anderson Pens listing says 30 pages.) The cover is thick paper, with the Life brand embossed, and a printed decorative border. The specs, product number, and some Japanese text are also on the cover. The metal wire rings are black. Overall, I like the look. The notebook has held up well while traveling in my computer bag.

I really like the 85gsm ivory-colored paper, both in its look and the way it performs. (Some retailers call this cream-colored.) The coating makes it nice and smooth, although not as slick as Rhodia paper. To me, it feels similar to Tomoe River paper and has a similar dry time.

I only had bleed through with a Sharpie. This was total bleed through, with ink soaking through to the next page. The thickest fountain pen I used, with a Sailor Zoom nib, didn’t bleed through at all. Dry time was as expected, which means not fast. I do have to be careful about turning the page. If this was a larger notebook, I’d keep a piece of blotter paper in the notebook. But because this is just for checklists, I don’t bother. I just wait before turning a page.

photo showing bleed-through

Since the paper is thin, there is significant show-through (ghosting). Between this and the grid ruling, I only write on one side of the page. This was as expected.

How I’m Using the Life Noble Note 3 X 5 Notebook

I’ve been using the notebook to keep some checklists. The checklists are either ones that I’ll want to work through multiple times or will take me several days (or weeks) to work through.

Examples include:
* Posts that I still need to write for my newer pen arrivals.
* Movie series that I’m working through in order. For these, I may watch the movies again in the future, so I use the grid boxes to check off when I watched that title. I use the next column for future viewings. I may be optimistic in thinking I’ll be able to find the notebook in the coming years.
* Checklist for a current project where I also need to take short notes. (No photo for this one as the info is confidential). This makes it easier for me to find the checklist and notes as I work on the project over a few days. This is a case where I do use the facing page for notes even though there’s costing. I used a thin Japanese extra-fine nib.

Wrapping Up.

I liked the Life Noble Note so much that I bought two more of the notebooks with graph ruling and another one with blank pages. The wire binding makes them useful to me, as I often like to have the notebook right next to the keyboard. Wirebound notebooks let me fold them over and have my note right against the keyboard. In this case, it also makes an already small notebook take even less desk space.

At $6 each, they aren’t the cheapest option. But, the Noble Notes are durable and have a high-quality fountain pen friendly paper.

A big two thumbs up.


Fountain Pen Quest Trail Log – August 23, 2020

This week’s favorite penMy fountain pen usage continued to be low, even though I did manage to empty one fountain pen. My order of ink and pads arrived. The Life notebook pictured above was in that order.

The Penlux Masterpiece Grande was my most used fountain pen this past week. I hesitate to call it the week’s favorite, because I’m really enjoying the zoom nib on the Sailor 1911 Ringless. It’s the one pen I would pick up and use for 5 minutes, just for the fun of it. Part of the attraction is the Montblanc Lavender Purple ink.

New Arrivals






Written Dry

  1. Penlux Masterpiece Grande (F) with Rohrer & Klingner went dry on Saturday morning. I liked this pen and ink combination, and while I will clean it out, it will be back soon. It was inked back on June 26th.

Newly Inked



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Fountain Pen Quest Trail Log – August 16, 2020

photo of my favorites Week of Aug 16, 2020

My favorites Week of Aug 16, 2020. Sailor Realo (M/F), Sailor 1911L (zoom) and Keychron K6

It was another week with relatively low fountain pen usage. My keyboard saw much more usage than all my pens combined. A favorite fountain pen was hard to pick this week, so I picked two. The Sailor 1911L Ringless Epinard was fun to doodle and play with, thanks to the zoom nib, while the Sailor Realo with its medium/fine nib and Montblanc Encre du Desert ink was my favorite to write with. The medium/fine nib was a joy, and I love the ink color.

Sailor’s new Shikiori ink cartridges became available here in the States. I was really being pulled to order the full pack of 20 inks (60 cartridges), but common sense prevailed. I picked three (Yama-Dori, Yodaki, and Shimoyo). The full pack of 60 would have lasted me years, probably until they evaporated, since they would only fit five of my pens. I added some notebooks to the order, but no pens. Anderson Pens shipped them out the same day (Friday), but if recent USPS experiences continue, I might receive them this coming week.

New Arrivals






Written Dry


Newly Inked



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Fountain Pen Quest Trail Log – August 9, 2020

This past week was one of my most unproductive of the entire year. I did my chores, like grocery shopping and house cleaning, but anything requiring thought or concentration was pushed aside. That meant my fountain pens didn’t get much use. I didn’t even journal every day. I missed two days completely, and wrote less than a page for each of the other days. The Benu Briolette was my most used pen, but it didn’t have any competition. I used the Sheaffer Balance II Aspen on Monday, the switched to the Benu on Tuesday. It stayed on my desk for the rest of the week. Seems unfair to call it a favorite, but it was certainly the most used.

I was in a bubble as the storm blew through my area. The lights flickered enough to cause the clock on the stove to start blinking a couple of times (maybe more, but I learned my lesson after setting it the first time and having it reset a few minutes later) and the sous-vide cooker was toggled off mid-way through, but then it finished without incident. I had power the next morning, and everything visible to me looked good. Twigs on the ground, some big enough to scratch car paint I suppose, but not big enough to break anything. My travels the next couple of days had me encountering closed roads and a lot of big trees down within a couple miles, which explained the 60%+ outage rate in the state. So, I did have some luck.

New Arrivals






Written Dry

  1. The Fisher of Pens Hermes suffered a hard start after being unused for a couple of days. I decided to flush the pen since I had used most of the ink. It’s still in the queue for cleaning. I hope to clean and re-ink it in a few days.

Newly Inked



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Currently Inked – August 2, 2020

2020_08_02 - Currently Inked Pens - Ready to Go

Currently inked fountain pens ready to go

It’s been over three months since I’ve done a currently inked post. It’s been even longer since I flushed a fountain pen without a reason, other than wanting a change. I cleaned over half my inked pens on Saturday, so a currently inked post seems appropriate. On Saturday, I realized I was bored with my current pen and ink choices, so it was time to break the rule against early flushing and get some variety moved into the rotation. I kept a few pens with a specific purpose, such as desk and pocket pens. I also kept a couple of new pens that I want to get to know better. These holdovers left me with enough black and blue-black inks to get by.

I often have trouble deciding what pens to ink up and what inks to use when my choices are limitless, well limited only to my accumulation. So, I decided to set some boundaries, beyond the obvious no more blue or black inks. For the fountain pens, I decided to limit myself to my two “S” brands, Sheaffer and Sailor. The Sailors would give me a nice variety of nib sizes since they all have different grinds. As for the inks, I went with a Montblanc rule. The exception to prove the rule would be allowing for Sheaffer inks in Sheaffer pens. I have six Sailor pens but lacked a converter for one (I thought I replaced that busted converter!), so I ended up having to make a decision. I decided to skip the Sailor 1911 Sterling despite its stub nib, which would have added variety. The pen needed polishing, which provided a ready excuse. If I had Sailor colored ink cartridges, I would have made an exception to my ink rule (I made it, I can break it), but all I have is blue and black sailor cartridges. I’m unwilling to break that rule.

I added my three favorite pens to the Sailor, Sheaffer Balance IIs, to the Sailors. I added another pen that I’ve been eager to ink up again. Plus, to really mess with the organization of this post, I re-inked a pen from July after it wen dry on Saturday.

Sheaffer Balance II (M) with Sheaffer Red ink. Sheaffer Red is a nice pure, well-behaved red ink, making it my favorite red ink. It used to be standard in the inkwell for my Esterbrook dip pen, but that inkwell is currently empty since office visits are rare these days. Because of the inkwell use, I’m guessing Sheaffer Red rivals, or maybe even beats, Montblanc Bordeaux in the number of bottles that I’ve finished. The bright red pen provided an excellent excuse to bring this ink back into use.

photo of Sheaffer Balance II Crimson Glow with Sheaffer Red ink

Sheaffer Balance II (M) with Sheaffer Emerald Green ink. This ink is an older version, sold in inkwell bottles with yellow boxes and labels. While the ink isn’t old enough to be vintage, it harkens to a time when Sheaffer had a unique personality. While it isn’t my favorite green, it is pretty close and is the perfect choice for this pen, which was Sheaffer’s attempt to reinvigorate that personality.

photo of Sheaffer Balance II Jade Green with Sheaffer Emerald Green__Sheaffer Balance II Aspen__ (M) with Montblanc Meisterstück 90 Years Permanent Grey. For whatever reason, my brain always wants to associate this ink with this pen, despite a complete lack of grey in the pen. So, while this met my Montblanc rule, the real reason it was used is that I have a hard time not picking this ink for this pen.  photo of Sheaffer Balance II with MB Permanent GreyWhile all the Sheaffers have nibs that are officially called medium, these lovely nibs are closer to a fine nib and certainly smaller than many recent new extra-fine or fine nibs that I’ve received.

Sailor King of Pen Royal Tangerine (L. Oblique) with Montblanc Toffee Brown. It’s been a long time since I’ve used this ink despite its rivaling Athena Sepia as my favorite brown ink. I wanted to use it and decided that this would be a good nib for it. I’m writing the draft of this post with this pen, and feel justified in my choice.


Sailor KOP Royal Tangerine with Motnblanc Toffee Brown ink bottle

Sailor 1911L Ringless Epinard (Z) with Montblanc Lavender Purple. I’ve been experimenting with the zoom nib using the included Sailor cartridge since the pen arrived. I decided it was time to introduce some color to the experiments. Purple is one of my favorite ink colors. Although I’d be hard-pressed to pick a clear favorite, this one is a contender.

photo of Sailor 1911L Ringless Epinard with Montblanc Lavender Purple ink bottle

Sailor Pro Gear Regency Stripe (EF) with Montblanc Albert Einstein. Japanese nibs are thin, and the Sailor extra-fine is one of the thinnest factory nibs available. I love the nice thin, consistent line the nib puts down. I usually pair this with dark ink, so it doesn’t get lost in the paper’s color. So I did hesitate a lot before picking this grey ink. The result is a thin, light, but legible line that’s the color of pencil lead. A very sharp pencil.

photo of Sailor Pro Gear Regency Stripe with Montblanc Albert Einstein ink bottle

Sailor King of Pen (M) with Montblanc Leonardo Red Chalk. I picked the ink because I like it. When it came time to match it to a pen, this seemed like the right choice for no reason in particular.

Sailor of Sailor Pro Gear King of Pen with Montblanc Leonardo Red Chalk ink bottle

Sailor Full Size Realo (M-F) with Montblanc Antoine de Saint-Expery Encre du Desert (a.k.a. – the ink I’ll never spell without looking it up). I was hesitant to pick another brown ink, but I do like it, and due to an order mix-up on my part, I have two bottles, so it was my final ink choice.

photo of Sailor Full Size Reallo with Montblanc Encre du Desert

ystudio Classic Desk Fountain Pen (F) with Montblanc “The Beatles” Psychedelic Purple. Technically this is a carryover from July, but I did have to refill it this past weekend. This is the only ink that’s been used in this pen since it arrived on May 2nd.

ystudio Classic Desk Fountain Pen with Montblanc Psychedelic Purple

Fisher of Pens Hermes (F) with Diamine Oxblood. I moved the cartridge from another pen. There’s only about 25% of the ink left, but I wanted this pen back in the rotation. No photo of this one, although it is in the group photo up top.

Holdover Pens

I did keep six other pens inked up from July. There are no individual pictures, but here are the details.

The Platinum Carbon Pen with its “superfine” nib is inked up with Platinum Carbon ink for the times I need thin and waterproof.

The Kanilea Kona Cherry stayed ink because I could never flush Montblanc Bordeaux ink down the drain. Plus, the beauty of the pen makes me smile when I use it. After some rough spots when the pen first arrived, we’re getting along much better now.

The Kaweco Brass Sport is a pocket pen inked up with red ink. While I don’t have much use for a pocket pen these days, there’s no reason to flush it out. When I need a pocket pen, it will be ready.

The Pilot Custom 912, Benu Briolette, and Penlux Masterpiece Grande (F) are all new pens that I’m still getting to know, so they stayed in the rotation. They’ll also fill any need for traditional black and blue/black inks.

Writing Samples

photo of 2020_08_02 - Currently Inked Writing Samples

photo of 2020_08_02 - Currently Inked Writing Samples